Thank you Kelly Evans!


Kelly Evans works at the American Therapeutic Recreation Association (ATRA) office.

She is great!

I first met Kelly in Kansas City, Missouri at the 2004 ATRA Conference. I had won the Peg Connolly Scholarship that year as a student in the Recreational Therapy master’s degree program at Indiana University. This was the 20-year anniversary conference for ATRA 1984-2004! I got to work with the fellow Peg Connolly scholarship winners to put together the tote-bags for people who attended the conference. Kelly was all over the place.

She was right there in 2009 in Minneapolis at the ATRA conference during the year that I assisted with the Peg Connolly Scholars.

Every year, she calls me, “Peg!” Chattanooga, Pittsburgh, Washington D.C.

I appreciate all she does at the office for our professional association!

Thanks, Kelly.

I do want to give a shout out to a few more people at the ATRA office too, including: Lamar Evans, Tina Jenkins, Toni Lee, and Chuck Junek. They all work in membership services as well. Pam Fleck, CTRS works with the ATRA Academy and Jamie Sharpe, CTRS works with social media.

Way to ATRA office and staff!

Your friend,


ATRA-Lifetime member.

SRU won the 2016 ATRA Organizational Award!

Slippery Rock University’s Recreational Therapy Club won the 2016 ATRA organization award!

I feel very happy and pleased with ATRA’s decision to award them.

I was talking to Colleen Cooke and telling her how I’m always so impressed with the students from Slippery Rock University (every year).

Way to go Slippery Rock University!


Contest winner – copy of Danny Pettry’s book!

Elyse J., Bloomington, MN had won a copy of my children’s book, Building Character with Sam, Izzy, and Many Other Dogs: 15 Tips to Help Children Build Character. She had attended my training session at ATRA! I always like to give away door-prizes at my sessions

The book has been featured in the media and in publications several times, including:

  • Tampa Bay Parenting Magazine (Tampa Bay, FL).
  • The Parthenon – Student newspaper at Marshall University (Huntington, W.Va).
  • The Register-Herald Newspaper (Beckley, W.Va.)
  • Indiana University Alumni Magazine (no article – but posted picture of book online). (Bloomington, IN) in 2009 or 2010
  • West Virginia Public Radio Interview in Jan. 2011

The book has a 5-star rating from reviewers!


Seal of Approval Winner by The National Parenting Center
Testers were delighted to discover this storybook that teaches children important lessons about tolerance, empathy, sharing, compassion and much more. Pettry uses adorable dogs and puppies to illustrate these good character traits. Parents noted how well the book was written. The style easily connected with children and was fun for parents to read. What many parents told us was that this book sparked conversations about various behaviors including how humans and dogs share many similarities when it comes to caring for each other.


go to this link to get the book:

Building Character with Sam, Izzy, and Many Other Dogs: 15 Tips to Help Children Build Character.

OR go here: 


NCTRC – recertification and specialty certifications


Pictured above: Susan Kaufer and Robin McNeal

I [Danny Pettry] had the great privilege of attending the Recertification and Specialty Certification Overview at the 2016 ATRA conference in Chicago with Robin McNeal, CTRS and Susan Kaufer, CTRS.

Robin and Susan work for NCTRC! I’ve had the privilege to attend several training sessions they’ve provided at ATRA conferences and other state/ local conferences of the years with both of them.

I informed both of them that I appreciate all the work they do for our certification. I also informed them that I do not envy their task/ job of reviewing all of those documents (applications) and reviewing/ audit of CEUs. Important job. Somebody has to do it. I let them know I’d rather be a practitioner in the field.

They shared the mission of NCTRC: To protect the consumer of therapeutic recreation services by promoting the provision of quality therapeutic recreation services by NCTRC certificants.

NCTRC is overseen by the National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA).

The Certified Therapeutic Recreation Specialist (CTRS) is considered the benchmark for professional services. The CTRS is known as the qualified provider of recreational therapy.

NCTRC does a lot to advocate for the credential. We, CTRS can also advocate and promote our credential. People can contact NCTRC to request brochures.


A while back, NCTRC completed a job analysis survey among certificants. It was used to identify two areas: job task/ experience and knowledge areas for the CTRS to be competent.

One option for renewing certification consists of: working at least 480 hours in the field within 5-years and having at least 50 hours of continuing education that are relevant to the therapeutic recreation knowledge areas.


Do it early! There is good news: people can submit their recertifcate application up to one-year early to get the process completed. Of course, the CTRS renewal cycle will still be at the same time. I think this is wonderful. That way – if a Continuing Education course doesn’t count towards recertification, you can earn more credits that do because you’ve submitted early/ before the deadline.


Responsibility: Your continuing education units(CEUs) is your responsibility. You must keep track of these and don’t lose them. I [Danny Pettry] keep mine in a fire proof safe along with CEUs for other professional certificates and state professional licenses.


NOTE: activity/ skills based sessions do not count for CEUs. In example – if you take a yoga class it won’t count. Of course, a person can take these courses to learn new skills, but should be aware that they won’t count for CEUs.


Ways to earn CEUs that were discussed during this session:

  • Publication – write a book or journal article and you’ll earn CEUs
  • Guest lecture for your local college or university and you’ll earn CEUS
  • Supervise an internship (up to 2 interns allowed) and they can’t be during the same time. You can get 5 hours per intern.
  • Academic course credit. One 3-hour-semester course counts for 45 out of 50 CEUs! That is a great way. Those working on their master’s degree will have an abundance of CEUs.

Another way:

  • They didn’t directly talk about online/ home study courses ( during this part of this session. Staff at NCTRC have in talked about my program (which I’ve attended, in example: ATRA 2013 Pitts, PA). However, I do think it is best that they don’t name any praticular programs. In example: if they talk about Indiana Univrsity for a master’s dgree in the field or taking a graduate course for CEU credit then other colleges and universities may want them to do the same and that really isn’t the role of NCTRC to advocate or promote any program like that.
  • My self-study online courses are currently pre-approved by NCTRC for CEUs. Go here:

Getting the 480 hours of experience in five years

  • Those working full time should easily have this.
  • Those who are not working full-time as a Rec Therapist can still earn 480 hours for various roles and responsibilities, including:
    1. Supervisor role (manager of RT)
    2. Administrator (at hospital) who is no longer working in RT
    3. Educator (who is teaching RT)
    4. Consultant (who is providing services in RT)
    5. Volunteer (which I just think is wonderful
    6. Professional services (serving as a member of the ATRA board or your state/ local chapter affiliate of ATRA)

Robin McNeal, CTRS and Susan Kaufer, CTRS (the two presenters of this training) are not working in direct service as a recreational therapist. However, they can still earn their 480 hours work from various ways.

I wanted to mention during this session that U.S. Congressman G. T. Thompson isn’t working as recreational therapist practitioner, but he still maintains his 480-hours of work in the field, which I’m very grateful for. He has done a lot with legislation related to our field.

The speakers did not directly say this, but I got a gut impression that they will move to requiring a CTRS to earn so many CEUs in each knowledge area. But I’m not 100% of that yet.


This is fairly new!

They speakers had suggested in the future that a license in the profession will be the benchmark in the field and then those professional practitioners can advance by earning specialty certifications.  They said that currently 54 people have a specialty certification!

Based on my knowledge, nurses can specialize in various areas (like behavioral health). Counselors can specialist (like substance abuse, career counseling, family marriage counseling, etc).

There are currently five specialty certifications offered by NCTRC.  These included:

  1. Behavioral health: they said over 50% of those with specialty certification have this one.
  2. Geriatrics: 2nd place
  3. Physical medicine/ rehabilitation: 3rd place
  4. Community/ inclusion: only two people have this.
  5. Developmental Disabilities: 0 people have this specialty certification.

There are two paths towards earning this.

  • One path consists of a master’s degree with (9) credit hours in the specialty area.
  • One path consists of earning (75) CEUs that are all focused in the specialty area and having at least 3 professional certificates that are greater than 6-hours.

I really hope to see more people get these.

NOTE: I, [Danny Pettry] am working on creating three professional certificate courses in behavioral health designed specifically for those people who are seeking the behavioral health specialty certification by NCTRC.  I’m working to get those same three professional certificate trainings approved by the National Board of Certified Counselors (NBCC). They will probably be released at my site ( in 2017.


Disclaimer: Contact NCTRC with your questions and comments. Danny Pettry (author of this blog) has been a CTRS since 2003, however, he does not work for NCTRC and he is not elected to the board of directors. Go here:

Anna Monaham – a 2016 Peg Connolly Scholarship winner!


Anna Monaham (pictured above)

Here is a picture of Anna Monaham who had won the 2016 Peg Connolly Scholarship.

She was punching my CEU form for one of the training sessions.

Anna told me that she recalled me encouraging her to apply for the Peg Connolly Scholarship several years ago when we were talking at the conference in Pittsburgh, PA.

How cool is that?

I’m so glad she won this award!  She was the only student from Slippery Rock University to win this year, which I thought was amazing because there are so many students at SRU.

Here instructor Dr. Deborah Hutchins from Slippery Rock University had also won the 2016 Distinguished Fellow award from ATRA.

Danny Pettry’s: Rec Therapy for Children presentation at ATRA.

I had the wonderful opportunity to provide a training session today (Mon. Sept. 12, 2016) at the American Therapeutic Recreation Association’s annual conference in Chicago.

I presented on: “Rec Therapy for children (ages 7 to 12) with abuse-reactive needs at a residential treatment facility.” This area has been my major focus and specialization area. I’ve worked with this population and setting for 14+ years.

I had created 50 folders with slideshow handouts and other promotional items. Over 50 people attended this session because we ran out of folders. A few people had written their emails on a sheet of paper for me to email the presentation slideshow to them.

By the way – Here is a link with the presentation:

NOTE: this slideshow alone just isn’t as good as the real presentation because I had added a lot additional information to each slide while speaking. Plus, I included recreational therapy group activity ideas.

Here are some pictures that were kindly taken by the room monitor, Ashley Martin who had won the Peg Connolly Scholarship to attend this year’s conference. She is finishing her degree at Indiana University! I thought that was awesome! I had completed my master’s degree at Indiana University. It is a really wonderful program.


ATRA Conference – photo by Ashley Martin

I appear to be raising my hand in that picture? Here is a joke: I must have said, “Raise your hand if you think Danny is awesome?” Umm. no hands are raised in the picture below. please insert a fake laugh aloud at that joke now.


I received a lot of praise from people after this session.

I didn’t receive any complaints, so that is always nice.

Several people that didn’t attend my session had spoken to me today saying they heard it was a good session, including: Colleen Cooke and Sydney Sklar and others that I can’t recall. But I do appreciate those people who passed along that it was a good session.

Volunteer with your State and National TR associations! Join ATRA!


Sorry about the blurry image – my old school digital camera is going out.

Karen Bone, CTRS (left in picture above) and Debbie Tiger (M.S., CTRS) (right in picture above)  co-presented on “Benefits of involvement in state and national therapeutic recreation organizations” on Sun. 9/11/16 (10:00 a.m.) at the American Therapeutic Recreation Association annual conference in Chicago.

I had the opportunity to attend this session!

There were very few people in attendance, which I felt discouraging.  I think more people need involved in our associations.

Those who did attend were already highly involved in their state and national organizations.

The speakers were both president-elect for their state associations.

This session focused on:

  • benefits of being involved in organizations (state or national)
  • Barriers to becoming involved

They played an inspirational TED talk on volunteering by Tuan Nguyen , which gave me some great ideas. He argues that giving back and volunteering is a great way to reach your professional goals.

Here is the video:

Here are some of the benefits Nguyen argued that a person receives for volunteering:

It increases:

  • Gratitude
  • Passion
  • Creativity
  • Efficient
  • Confidence
  • Courage
  • Leadership
  • Positive energy.

Who else wants to those benefits?


Danny Pettry comments: There are two ways you volunteer for your profession. These are : time and money. You can give money to your professional association (membership) and other special causes (buy membership for a student or intern). Donate your time by writing articles, serving on the board, assisting with a conference.


The speakers had completed research through the listserv and contacting associations to get feedback from members.

Here are some benefits for state involvement:

  • Get acknowledgement
  • Combine resources – stronger
  • Discover career opportunities
  • Collaborate on issues
  • Students can discover internships
  • Help work on state policy, laws, licensure,
  • Advocate for clients
  • Gain new skills and perspective
  • Make impact on profession by giving back
  • Network and meet with other professionals.

Here are some benefits for national involvement:

  • Mentor others
  • Develop skills
  • Meaningful lasting friendships
  • Get codes, standards, scope of practice
  • Know what is going on in the profession
  • Network
  • New skills
  • Personal and professional growth
  • Know current practices


Here is a link where you can join ATRA if you haven’t done so already.

Here is an ATRA link with state TR organizations for you to join your state or local area association:

Disclaimers and other notices: I [Danny Pettry] am a lifetime member of ATRA. I’m not hired or paid by the organization. I do volunteer my money (membership) and my time (presenting articles, participating on special committees (public policy and TR month), reviewing Peg Connolly student application essays, write articles for the newsletter, going to the hill to talk to lawmakers in my state about rec therapy. I don’t get paid to do those things. I do it because I love my profession and I want to make a difference. Although my own state, West Virginia disbanded their state branch of ATRA, I am still involved in personally setting up a state conference every two years for recreational therapists in the West Virginia, Ohio, and Kentucky tristate area.

ATRA opening general session:


Photo: Dawn Devries (current president of ATRA) and Dr. Aaron Bunnel

Dawn DeVries, the current President of ATRA had spoken during the opening general session.

She had several people to stand in the audience for recognition, including:

  • Peg Connolly student scholarship winners
  • All students that were in attendance (and there were many of them)
  • The ATRA Board of Directors – what a wonderful group of people. They are from all over the United States, in places like: Virginia, Illinois, Georgia, and New Mexico.
  • The President of the Canada Therapeutic Recreation Association was present!
  • There were internal guests too from not only Canada, but Japan as well.


The Keynote address:

The Keynote address was given by Dr. Aaron Bunnel from Harborview Medical Center and University of Washington.

His story: he took a year off before going to med school.

He woke up from sleeping on the beach with his friends (at age 22). He ran and dived in the water and suffered a neck injury that paralyzed him. His friends thought he was playing around while he was drowning in the water. He couldn’t move. He wondered about how he would live and if he could still go to Med School and do the things he wanted to do.

He was grateful for recovery but was also stuck at home with little to do.

He had love for nature, friends, competition, and endurance.

He didn’t have a rec therapist during his initial rehab.

He said physical therapy worked well. It was just hard and painful.

I [Danny Pettry] know PT is painful things. I had PT when I was young after dislocated my shoulder form a skateboarding accident. I’m very lucky I dislocated my shoulder and not my neck.

He said there is only so much PT one can do in a day.

He worked at getting back to life. – he couldn’t g hiking and nature or do mountain climbing too well at first. Kicked soccer ball around some, started golf.

With time he increased endurance and strength and decreased his pain!

Danny Pettry comments: Way to go active lifestyle!

He still had the desire to become a doctor. It was his dream and passion

He used adaptive recreation to get back to life: cycling, yoga, swimming.

Benefits for him: decreased falls, better sleep.

He decided to go for med school and it worked out. He did the 30-hour shifts required.

Now – maintaining functioning abilities as he aged. He didn’t want to be on couch at age 60. He wanted to make sure he’d still be working.

Photos before accident – grinning and smiling

After incident – didn’t’ smile too much

A little while later – after adaptive sports – smiling again.

Exercise is good!

He cited benefits of physical activity:

  • Reduce cardiovascular disease and stroke. No medication can get that result
  • Reduce risk of mood disorders, depression
  • Reduce risk of cognitive decline
  • Less pain
  • Increase strength
  • Increase quality of life



Adaptive sports are beneficial:

Those people with disabilities that participate in adaptive sports are twice as likely as the general populate to be employed!


So what is the strongest predictor that a person is in adaptive sports one year after incident? It is the number of therapeutic recreation sessions during inpatient physical rehab.


There are also positive associations and social integration with adaptive sports.


Dr. Aaron Bunnel argues that recreational therapy hasn’t been given its due.

“Recreation is fun! Social bias kicks in.”

“but it is serious, too”


Dr. Aaron Bunnel argued the importance of advocating our profession.

  • He discussed H.R. 1906 Act of 2015, which will give access to inpatient rehab treatment to more people. It would restore reliance on the professional judgement of a physician. Write your representative.
  • Advocate our profession to get our voice heard.
  • Educate physicians about outcomes of our services and how it increases (good benefits) and decreases (bad target symptoms).
  • Join ATRA. Please note that, I [Danny Pettry] am a lifetime member of ATRA.
  • Provide hospitals with educational seminars
  • Build on the evidence because policy is influenced by this.
  • Work towards advanced degrees – doctoral or masters. I, Danny Pettry have two graduate degrees – rec therapy and mental health counseling. He argued your graduate degree could be in a similar field as well.
  • Keep at it. Be persistent and don’t give up

He said research is a great way to advocate for what we do.


He validated that what we do is important and really matters .


My thoughts about Dr. Aaron Bunnel:

Here is a guy who could have easily given up and used all the excuses in the book for not trying.

However, he was determined, persistent, had dreams and passions. He didn’t give up.

He got back to functioning through adaptive sports and he went on to become a doctor and does so much more! What a great guy! Glad I got to hear his talk today.

Canine Therapy –

CANINE THERAPY corps presented at the “Welcome to ATRA’s 2016 annual conference,” during the opening general session.

They are a program of dedicated volunteers in the Chicago area who use certified therapy dogs to help people with rehabilitation therapy.

It was so awesome seeing all of those dogs. However, my camera battery started to go out during this time and I didn’t get many good pictures like I wanted to.

Callie Cozzolino talked about the dogs and what they can do to help people.

She said: “the possibilities are endless.”

Some of the physical rehabilitation benefits include:

Strength activities, fine motor skills, range of motion activities, and activities of daily living.

Dogs can be used for rehab needs, including: sitting, balance, flexibility, and turning.

There were activities where the individual (in need) role-played by students from Grand Valley State University (Michigan). One activity consisted of raising legs so they dog jumps over them or goes under. It is a fun way to play with dog, while building strength in legs.

Of course, there was a lot of laughter too with the dogs.

She also discussed the cognitive component and social component as well.

I [Danny Pettry] recall reading that people with animal therapy dogs are approached socially more often than those who don’t have one. – so there is a big increase in social connectedness.

Here are some pictures: